A root cause analysis is a process used to identify the primary source of a problem. It has become a popular methodology for companies serious about resolving issues that negatively impact their bottom line.
Unlike other methodologies, root cause analysis (RCA) is generally more successful when there’s a small, focused team involved in looking for answers.
It’s not unusual to have a supervisor lead an RCA team composed of communication staff, research staff and personnel from the department or departments being affected by a serious problem.
The first – and possibly most important – step is to identify possible causal factors. The RCA team should set the vision, identify the problem and collect as much data as need to better understand the situation. That data can then be used to identify causal factors. To identify causal factors, ask:
- What sequence of events leads to the problem?
- What conditions allow the problem to occur?
- What problems coexist with the central problem and might contribute to it?
Identify as many causal factors as possible. Start with the problem and brainstorm causal factors for that problem by asking “Why?” as often as needed to peel away the layers separating the team from the starting point to the solution.
One method for identifying root causes is to construct a root cause tree. Start with the problem and brainstorm causal factors for that problem by asking why. Connect them in a logical cause and effect order until arriving at the root of the problem.
The goal of RCA is to identify the root cause of the problem.
The final step is for the RCA supervisor to work with the RCA team to trigger long-term corrective actions to address the root cause identified during RCA, and make sure that the problem does not resurface.
Correcting a problem is not formally part of RCA, but rather different steps in a problem-solving process known by different names depending on the industry such as fault management in IT and telecommunications, repair in engineering, remediation in aviation, environmental remediation in ecology AND therapy in medicine.
Want to know more? Tonex offers Root Cause Analysis Training for Supervisors, a 2-day class that covers the principals, tools, and techniques of root cause analysis. It teaches supervisors all the knowledge and skills needed in order to lead a root cause analysis investigation.